Eligibility and assessment criteria for the Freshwater Improvement Fund

Applications to the Freshwater Improvement Fund must first meet eligibility criteria. They are then assessed by a panel of experts which makes recommendations to the Minister for the Environment. This page sets out the eligibility and assessment criteria for applications. 

Eligibility criteria

Eligibility criteria must be meet before your application will be considered for funding. Meeting eligibility criteria does not guarantee funding.

1.    The project must contribute to improving the management of New Zealand’s freshwater bodies.
2.    The project must meet one or more of the following:

a.  achieve demonstrable co-benefits such as:

  • improved fresh, estuarine or marine water quality or quantity
  • increased biodiversity
  • habitat protection
  • soil conservation
  • improved community outcomes such as to recreational opportunity or mahinga kai
  • reduction to current or future impacts of climate change
  • reduced pressure on urban or rural infrastructure

b.    increase iwi/hapū, community, local government, or industry capability and capacity in relation to freshwater management
c.    establish or enhance collaborative management of fresh water
d.    increase the application of mātauranga Māori in freshwater management
e.    include an applied research component that contributes to improved understanding of the impacts of freshwater interventions and their outcomes.

3.    The minimum request for funding is $200,000 (excluding GST).
4.    The fund will cover a maximum of 50 per cent of the total project cost.
5.    The project will be funded for a maximum period of up to five years after which the project objectives will have been achieved or the project will be self-funding.
6.    The project must achieve benefits that would not otherwise be realised without the fund or are not more appropriately funded through other sources.
7.    The effectiveness of the project and its outcomes will be monitored, evaluated and reported.
8.    An appropriate governance structure in place (or one will be established as part of the project).
9.    The applicant must be a legal entity.


  • funding provided by the applicant may include Crown funding from other sources.
  • applications for projects that meet all eligibility criteria (whether or not they fall within the vulnerable catchments) will be considered on their own merits for funding against the assessment criteria for the fund.

Assessment criteria

Applications that meet the eligibility criteria will be assessed against the assessment criteria.

1.    The extent to which the project addresses the management of freshwater water bodies identified as vulnerable.
2.    The project demonstrates improvement in the values and benefits derived from the freshwater body.
3.    The extent to which public benefit is increased.
4.    The project demonstrates a high likelihood of success based on sound technical information or examples of success achieved through comparable projects undertaken elsewhere.
5.    The extent to which the project will leverage other funding.
6.    The project will involve the necessary partner organisations to ensure its success.
7.    The project will engage personnel with the required skills and experience to successfully deliver the project.

Applications are assessed by a panel of experts. The panel makes recommendations to the Minister for the Environment who makes the final funding decision.

Contact us

Email your query about the Freshwater Improvement Fund. Include your name, organisation, a summary of what you want to know, and phone number. 

Email: fif@mfe.govt.nz